Deering Estate: Art Kayak

Melissa Diaz (Deering Estate Cultural Arts Curator), Summer Leavitt (Curatorial & Cultural Programs Associate) and JW Bailly (Deering Estate AIR Fellow) organize kayak excursions for members of the arts community to Chicken Key at the Deering Estate. These kayak excursions are organized specifically for the Miami art community. By offering artists an immersive experience into the pristine nature and archeological history of Miami, the aim is to expand the perception of Miami. It is hoped the resulting dialogue surrounding the identity of Miami will manifest itself in the contemporary arts.

“The island of Chicken Key, located approximately one mile offshore, was formed by the deposition of quartz and limestone sands by ocean currents. An 1899 survey by S. H. Richmond recorded a maximum elevation of three feet above sea level and historically, the island was characterized by a sand beach and low dunes. Dredge deposits in the 1940s increased elevations from 3 to 10 feet on most of the island, destroying the dunes. In 1996-1997, the County restored Chicken Key, removing dredged materials, connecting the mangrove forest and dune system, and re-creating the island’s original topography.” Deering Estate Natural Resources

If you are participating in the kayak excursion, here is how to prepare:

  1. Please feel free to bring your phone, GoPro or camera. Photos are not only allowed but encouraged as they help raise environmental awareness. Please share with us and/or tag the Deering Estate on Social Media. Bailly strongly encourages you purchase a dry bag or marine box.
  2. Despite the heat, a long sleeve swim shirt is recommended. Bring lots of sunscreen.
  3. Wear a pair of water shoes. Do not wear flip flops, sandals, or crocs. There is a lot of glass. Just ask Bailly to see his scars to prove it.
  4. If you want to snorkel, bring your own mask, snorkel, and fins. 
  5. Bring a change of clothes and leave it in your car. Do not leave anything valuable in your car.
  6. Bring a reusable water bottle and a lunch. There are no services on the island-no water, no food, no restroom, no restaurant.
  7. Have strong bug spray with you to use as needed. The mosquitoes can get quite bad.
  8. There is a possibility of encountering some wildlife (manatees, racoons, sharks, stingrays). You can always look, but never touch. If participating in a cleanup, always check cans for octopus, crab, or fish before removing from water.
  9. If you are comfortable with it, bring a knife to cut ropes and fishing line out of mangroves.
  10. Remember that this is a boating adventure through a natural environment!! Dress appropriately and be ready for the unexpected!!!

The Deering Estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is home to the Cutler Fossil Site, oldest archaeological site in southeastern Florida, as well as one of only two unexcavated Tequesta Burial Mounds. The Deering Estate Nature Preserve is one of the few remaining pristine natural environments in Miami.

16701 SW 72nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33157

The Deering Estate is located in South Miami-Dade County in the Village of Palmetto Bay. There is very limited public transportation access to the Deering Estate. Car parking is ample and free, however. Detailed information is available on

Dedicated to preserve and protect the natural, archaeological, architectural and historic legacy of the Estate by using cutting-edge tools and established methods to steward the management and utilization of its sensitive resources, while educating and enhancing the public appreciation of the unique characteristics of the site through well-matched and multipurpose uses.

Learn more about the history and nature with this Deering Estate Walking Tour


Participants meet at the main entrance.

John William Bailly 15 December 2021

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